After 40 years as a professional herb and lavender grower, I now garden just for fun in my potager, located in Zone 5, north central Indiana. Of course, I must have flowers as well, so there are gardens around my home, as well as a large berry patch (blackberries, red and black raspberries, black currants, fall red raspberries, gooseberries, elderberries.) When I’m not in the gardens, I’m blogging, writing “herbal fiction,” experimenting with new recipes in the kitchen, preserving my harvest, or traveling to visit great gardens and gardening events. Visit my website at www.caroleesherbfarm.com for hundreds of photos of my former gardens, the lavender field, recipes, monthly newsletter, and lots, lots more. Information on my four “herbal fiction” novels, “Herbal Beginnings,” “Herbal Choices,” “Herbal Passions,” and “Herbal Blessings,” appears there, as well as an on-line shop. The books can also be found at Amazon. They are a delicious blend of romance, mystery, gardening tips, and herbal lore.
In an earlier, much younger life, back in 1977, my family moved from the Chicago area to a dilapidated 20 acre farm in southern Indiana. We were “back-to-the-landers” and grew nearly all our own food: huge vegetable garden (to meet our needs and do farmers’ markets twice a week), chickens (my friend and I could butcher and can 80 in a day), hogs (I learned to butcher, cure hams & bacon), dairy goats (I made cheese & yogurt twice a week), sheep (learned to hand shear, card, spin on a wheel my father-in-law made for me one Christmas, and knit hats, scarves and mittens…never made it to socks!) and rabbits (learned to butcher, tan and make house slippers from hides.) Kept bees and grew, pressed, and cooked down sorghum into molasses. Foraged everything edible: mushrooms, paw paws, persimmons, greens, etc. Grew my own grains (wheat, rye, corn, buckwheat) which I scythed, threshed (in a small mechanical thresher my dad built for me ala Gene Logsdon’s book “Small Scale Grain Raising” instructions) and ground for flour (actually the 3 kids did most of the grinding in exchange for watching tv…amazing how selective their programming becomes!) I began my herb farm in 1978, had display gardens, held festivals often attended by 5,000 visitors. Years passed. The kids went off to college, 21 acres of field production and doing markets was too much work for me and I remarried and moved to north central Indiana. There I established my second, down-sized herb farm (the one on my website) and concentrated on growing plants for retail, plus operating a Big Barn Gift Shop and 22 display gardens and the lavender field. Now I just play!